Thursday, July 26, 2018
If We Can't Learn to Live With Our Planet, We Can't Continue to Live On It.
We have some serious problems to address. How we respond to those problems will determine how human civilization goes forward or even collapses. So, what's it going to be?
It's finally sinking in that we are confronted by three main existential threats - climate change (and the freshwater crisis), over-consumption and overpopulation. Mankind has massively outgrown our planet and, in the process, has put not only the human species but most other life forms, terrestrial and aquatic, in real jeopardy.
While our odds worsen and the challenges continue to grow year by year, at this point we have one possible remedy - a rapid and engineered decline, what James Lovelock once labeled "sustainable retreat."
Our species has outgrown our planet and we're fresh out of planets. We've got one, just the one. All we've got is Spaceship Earth and we're exhausting its resources, exceeding its ecological carrying capacity by a factor of 1.7. And that excess is growing every year.
We're squeezing out other species - taking their habitat, their food, contaminating their world. Over the past 40 years we have lost more than half of all terrestrial and marine life. We don't leave enough for them to maintain their populations. Just one species, our own, is now putting almost every other species to rout.
We pretend not to notice. Hey, the supermarket shelves are still stocked with food at affordable prices. Yet we have already substantially degraded our global ecosystem.
It is estimated that mankind last lived in harmony with nature in the mid-70s when our population reached three billion. That's when we maxed out the Earth's carrying capacity. In the 40 years since we've swollen our numbers to 7.5 billion, expected to reach 9 billion in another two decades. Meanwhile the Earth's human carrying capacity has declined. It's estimated we're now at two billion. Of course we can ignore it and keep growing our numbers and our global GDP but we've been warned that will trigger collapse and we'll end out this century with a population well under one billion, perhaps just a few hundred million tucked away in the very coolest parts of the planet.
Nine billion down to a few hundred million - that's a lot of people who will have to die and over the span of less than a single human lifetime.
You would think that, armed with all this science and aware of what's already happening around the world, especially severe weather events of increasing frequency, intensity and duration, that we would be racing to act. You would be wrong. We're racing all right but we're heading ever faster toward that oncoming train in the distance.
So, what do you think? Most who read these posts are either centrist or mildly leftist politically. Centrists support the Trudeau Liberal government that pursues perpetual exponential economic growth including the extraction, transmission and export of life-extinguishing high-carbon bitumen. Leftists support the New Democrats who don't seem to be significantly different than the Liberals or the Conservatives on the growth economy business.
I want to know what you think of your preferred political party and its policies on the economy, on the environment. What do you think of their plans, if any, to prepare our country and our people for what is expected to arrive in just the next couple of decades?
Are you among the group who believes "they'll think of something"? Why do you think that? Is it because anything other than a theological-grade belief in salvation is unbearable?
I know this issue makes some people not just anxious but angry. However the simple fact that you're still reading this suggests you're not one of those.
So, what do you think?